13 Parts Per Trillion

13 Parts Per Trillion
February 11, 2020

If the headline intrigues you, then you might be wondering what we mean by ‘13 parts per trillion.’ You’ve clicked through to the right place!

A recent report has created a stir about Per and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a complex set of thousands of man-made chemicals first introduced in the 1950s. These PFAS chemicals can be found nearly everywhere: food, clothing, water, etc. The published report profiled cities across the United States and included Louisville in its sample study. Based off one sample, at one point in time, the report indicated that our water was affected by PFAS and may be unsafe. It is important to note that this misleading sentiment is absolutely not true. Louisville Water is in the business of protecting public health and your drinking water is some of the highest quality in the country.

Here are the facts you should know:

  • PFAS is a complex group of compounds and the EPA is only focused on a small number of the them, two of which are PFOA and PFOS. The EPA health advisory, based on lifetime exposure to PFOA and PFOS in drinking water, is 70 parts per trillion. Louisville Water’s research has found levels of PFOA ranging from “non-detect” to 13 parts per trillion and up to 5 parts per trillion for PFOS.
  • There are currently no federal regulations for PFAS –only health advisories.
  • Louisville Water conducts over 200 tests daily on the drinking water supply. One sample, like the one in this study, doesn’t drive standards. The recently published report did not find anything significantly different than our own water quality sampling.
  • There is no such thing as “zero” and many of the traditional water treatment methods do not entirely remove these compounds.
  • Louisville Water continues its research to include monthly monitoring of PFAS to understand the occurrence of them and look for any patterns. Our scientists are also working with national research partners to understand treatment options, should we need it.

Based on the best available science on a national scale, we do not see PFAS as a concern for Louisville’s drinking water. However, we acknowledge the need for more research and we are committed to continuing our long tradition of leading the way. Like many other things, Louisville Water and other water utilities didn’t create this problem, but we will tackle it head on for public health in our own community and beyond.

Visit LouisvilleWater.com for the latest information on our water quality.

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